There’s an App for That

There’s an App for That

We live in a connected, digital world and one that can be managed in its entirety by a device small enough fit into our pocket. Physical tools that were once used to conduct daily business have become almost obsolete and been replaced by digital software. Faster, cheaper and more reliable, these digital applications have surpassed the achievements of their physical counterparts and are now progressing to areas previously thought impossible. There is quite literally an app for any function you can think of.

In the West, we mainly adopted apps that had a single function and we adopted them in their thousands. We used WhatsApp to message, Uber to order a taxi, Netflix to watch a film, BBCNews for headlines and Banking apps for payments, but that is no longer the case. Apps have evolved to become more versatile than before. It started with messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, offering additional functions, like video and voice call and has now progressed to Facebook offering an eBay-esque marketplace.

Although we are starting to move in the direction of multi-purpose apps, we are still far behind Asia in that respect. Multipurpose apps dominate that Eastern market with many notable mentions including; Baidu: the Chinese version of google, which offers search, news, maps, music, cloud, AI, personal assistant etc. Meituan is another Chinese app that offers everything retail, from food delivery to booking cinema tickets. Go-Jek is Indonesia’s all in one app that offers transportation, delivery, lifestyle and payment services. Finally the one true app to rule them all, WeChat. The Swiss army knife of the digital world, with WeChat you can do just about anything – send money, video calls, play games, hail taxis, order food, buy movie tickets, read the news, book a doctor’s appointment, and more. WeChat is so encompassing, that for millions of Chinese people, it is the first thing they look at in the morning and the last thing they see at night. The diagram below shows how a typical WeChat user may use the app’s functions during a typical day.

The fundamental reason for the success of multipurpose apps is that users want less clutter. Downloading and updating the software required to maintaining a phone packed full of discrete applications is extremely taxing on data, not to mention the cost on the device’s battery and performance.  For many Asian users their smart phone is their first computing device and so simplicity is key.

The success of these apps in the East shows promising potential for the trend to spread to the West. An article in Quartz from this year suggests that as many as 65% of US smartphone users download an average of zero apps per month. To avoid dampened user uptake, there is a great opportunity for strategic mergers and acquisitions, by integrating the features of independent applications and expanding the user base of both parties.

Personally, I have issues with the idea of one company controlling all my activities. I already find it uncomfortable how much google knows about me, the idea a company could become more ‘all knowing’ is frankly terrifying.

Author: Christopher Braithwaite

The founder of TMTalks, Christopher, is based in the United Kingdom and writes for the site in his free time. Particular areas of interest include Space, energy, cyber security and block-chain technology.

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